Winstanley called for English men and women to revive the original communism and reclaim the common treasury of the holy earth. Alas, the curse remained.
The Romantics criticised industrial capitalism as a kind of demonic enchantment. Relying on imagination, the Romantics criticised industrial capitalism as a kind of demonic enchantment.
C. Stephen Jaeger
An art critic and historian, Ruskin was mostly known to his contemporaries as a prophet against industrialism: the second volume of The Stones of Venice brought us one of the earliest invectives against mechanisation, and Unto This Last — one of the greatest and most vilified artifacts of social criticism of the Victorian era — inspired not only the Arts and Crafts movement but trade union and Labour Party rank and file.
Ruskin traced the national apostasy to a mis-enchantment that wrought human and ecological devastation. To Ruskin, capitalism violated earthly beatitude. In Unto This Last , Ruskin compared economics to witchcraft and alchemy.
F rom early 19th-century Transcendentalists to the s counterculture, American thinkers have also spoken against capitalist mis-enchantment. Though alienated from organised Christianity, Henry David Thoreau possessed a vivid sense of the holy and sacred.
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With the development of American capitalism after the Civil War, a number of Populists, Social Gospelers, and Arts and Crafters continued the critical tradition of mis-enchantment. Ignatius Donnelly, a popular firebrand and autodidact, promoted a producerist cosmology that echoed Carlyle and Ruskin.
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Social Gospelers articulated a similar remonstrance in a more Christian idiom. If all material reality was sacramental — conveying the grace and power of God — then human making, rightly conceived and performed, was as legitimate a path to righteousness as the more ritualised forms of sacrament.
William James also echoed Romantic anti-capitalism. These religious indictments of capitalism found, in the s, a later generation of exponents. With ecological as well as economic calamity looming today, understanding and addressing the ontological assumptions of capitalist modernity is imperative. Catherine Wilson. Jan-Willem van Prooijen. Become a Friend of Aeon to save articles and enjoy other exclusive benefits Make a donation. For example: this way we can all make memes without the normies knowing what it says.
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She seeks to rehabilitate enchantment, showing not only how it is still possible to experience genuine wonder, but how such experience is crucial to motivating ethical behavior. As Bennett describes it, enchantment is a sense of openness to the unusual, the captivating, and the disturbing in everyday life.
She guides us through a wide and often surprising range of sources of enchantment, showing that we can still find enchantment in nature, for example, but also in such unexpected places as modern technology, advertising, and even bureaucracy. She then explains how everyday moments of enchantment can be cultivated to build an ethics of generosity, stimulating the emotional energy and honing the perceptual refinement necessary to follow moral codes.
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Bennett has a remarkable talent for both being imaginative and yet not letting the enchantment of this flight lead her to fail in the task of carefully engaging those with whom she disagrees. She is enacting her own ideal of generosity while forging a powerful and original vision of late modern life. The core strength of this book lies in the way it draws the reader to entertain a distinctively different way of experiencing the world.